A cash injection of $60,000 has been granted to an Australian research project looking at type 1 diabetes and how to prevent it.
The money has been given to a team from the country’s oldest medical research institute, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
Led by Dr Esther Bandala Sanchez they want to investigate whether sugar-coated proteins called CD52 could help form a test for the condition and preventative treatment.
A previous study has already shown how some immune cells can provide protection against the disease.
Dr Sanchez said: “We discovered how ‘good’ T cells deploy a sugar-coated protein or ‘immune modulator’ called CD52, which seeks out ‘bad’ T cells to suppress their function.
“Using its sweet, sticky exterior, CD52 is able to ‘stick like toffee’ to these disease-causing T cells, stopping them from causing harm.
Sanchez’s team discovered that without CD52, the activity of ‘bad’ T cells increases, leading to a depletion of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
“We hope one day preventing type 1 diabetes will be as simple as taking regular tests and that CD52 could be used as a biomarker for a person’s risk of developing this disease,” added Sanchez.
The grant was awarded to the research unit by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust.
Chief executive officer of Diabetes Australia, associate professor Greg Johnson said: “It is a long road but this research is a critical step down the road towards clinical trials in humans,” he said.
This research project is one of 14 studies across Victoria in Australia which has received a grant by Diabetes Australia.

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